June 8th: National Tornado Day

The National Weather Service office out of Wichita, Kansas has put together a fantastic synopsis of the significance of today’s date: June 8th, when it comes to tornado history.

If any date was to be observed as National Tornado Day in the United State it would likely be June 8th. In 1941, an F4 tornado around one quarter mile wide and possessing rotational velocities of 210 to 260 mph roared 42 miles across south-central Kansas from 7 miles southwest of Maize to the Butler/Marion county line 5 miles west of Burns. Eight people were killed, 20 injured, and 5 homes were leveled.

A night-time tornado photographed by Fred Smith in Florida in 1991 is shown illuminated by a nearby lightning strike.
A night-time tornado photographed by Fred Smith in Florida in 1991 is shown illuminated by a nearby lightning strike. Click image for larger view. Source: Fred Smith

As reported by the National Weather Service, Kansas wasn’t the only state that got in on the action on June 8th. Many other tornadoes, some of which were much more devastating, followed:

In 1951, two tornadoes, one an F4 one half mile wide and 15 miles long; the other an F2 around 100 yards wide and 5 miles long, struck west-central Oklahoma. These are the first tornadoes ever filmed in the United States. Fortunately, there were no deaths or injuries.

When the media sensationalizes the current tornado season as being somehow grossly anomalous, it bears reminding that, while the number of fatalities has been above average so far for the season, it pales in comparison to many years past. In fact, a single tornado in 1953 killed more people than all of the tornadoes combined have so far this season:

In 1953, the worst tornado ever to hit Michigan did so when an F5 monstrosity devastated North Flint. Possessing a track 27 miles long and one half mile wide and rotational velocities of 260 to 315 mph, the tornado killed 115 people, injured 844, and caused $19 million dollars in damage. This was the last tornado to cause 100 or more fatalities in the United States.

And finally, mention of the historic F5 of 1966 that devastated Topeka, Kansas. This was the first “$100 million dollar tornado” on record:

In 1966, an F5 tornado roared through downtown Topeka, Kansas. Possessing a track 22 miles long and one half mile wide, the tornado destroyed 820 homes as entire neighborhoods vanished. Most damage occurred in an 80mile long by 4-block wide track right through the center of the state capitol. There were 16 deaths, 406 injuries, and around $100 million in damage; $10 million to Washburn University alone.

The NWS also closes with a bit of a mythbusting line:

The twister passed directly over Burnett’s Mound which, according to legend, protected Topeka from tornadoes. That legend died a violent death.

Image Credit: Fred Smith
For images from other recent events, view the Joplin, Missouri tornado image gallery.


Pingback: weather history

Wow these are all terrible, but um, how about this one:
June 8, 1974 Central Ok thru NE Ok.
29 Tornadoes F4(3), F3(14) plus an additional 11 severe weather events.

16 dead, approx 300 injured.

I lived thru one F4, three F3 and one F2 in Tulsa that afternoon and night. Oh yeah, I forgot about the 8 inches of rain in four hours!

Have a nice day!


Topeka June 8th, 1966 – I was here, saw it, saw the damage, and always, always respect tornadoes.

hello there and thank you for your info – I have definitely picked up anything
new from right here. I did however expertise some technical
points using this site, as I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I could
get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is
OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading
instances times will sometimes affect your placement
in google and could damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective
intriguing content. Make sure you update this again soon.

Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your
weblog. You have some really great articles and I think I would be a good asset.
If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for
your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
Please send me an e-mail if interested. Thank you!

Leave a Reply